Unemployment reaches 15 year high

July 20, 2020

The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate increased to 6.2% in the period between April and June, the highest in more than 15 years, the Census & Statistics Department announced today.


The underemployment rate also went up to 3.7% during the period, the highest in close to 17 years.


Total employment was 3,620,400, about the same as the period between March and May, while the labour force rose by 11,100 to 3,861,100.


There were 240,700 unemployed people in the period, an increase of 10,300 from the period between March and May, while the number of underemployed people rose by 7,800 to 142,900.


Secretary for Labour & Welfare Dr Law Chi-kwong said in a statement that the labour market continued to deteriorate for the second quarter as a whole, but the pressure faced by the labour market showed signs of easing towards the end of the quarter as the local epidemic situation abated in May and June.


The launch of the Employment Support Scheme also helped counter the headwinds facing the labour market, he added.


Analysed by sector, the unemployment rate of the consumption and tourism-related sectors combined edged up to 10.7% in the period, the highest since August to October 2003 after the onslaught of SARS, but their combined underemployment rate eased somewhat.


Among these sectors, the unemployment rate for food and beverage service activities stayed near the post-SARS high at 14.7%.


Meanwhile, the unemployment rates of those involved in the sectors of decoration, repair and maintenance for buildings, import and export trade, and warehousing and support activities for transportation increased visibly to multi-year highs.


Dr Law explained that the still serious epidemic situation in certain parts of the world and renewed surge in local cases serve as a timely reminder that the economic outlook is still subject to huge uncertainties.


He also emphasised that the local labour market situation going forward will very much depend on how the global and local epidemic situations evolve.

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